In our age of innovative technology, much of which increases leisure time, one might think that boredom would be the least of our problems. The author cogently argues, however, that amid so many entertainment options and opportunities, boredom is a mainstay in the lives of many.
Winter begins his study by pointing out that while boredom has existed for years, western culture evidenced an increase of boredom in the latter half of the twentieth century. It has impacted the workplace, educational institutions, and family life, and has even become a theme in the arts.
In successive chapters the author discusses that much boredom is rooted in seeing no meaning in life and being involved in a job that is full of repetition. Opportunities for boredom increase with increasing leisure time and the overwhelming influence of the media in individual lives. This media influence bombards us to the point that our ability to make choices is dulled. Also, the media creates a fantasy world and fantasy expectations that can cause one’s life in the real world, by contrast, to seem boring.
To a great degree, boredom is a part of our cultural life because Christianity is not. The author does a fine, concise tracing of boredom’s history from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. In this survey he shows that the ebbing tide of Christianity opened the path for waves of boredom to crash into individual lives.
The loss of a godly faith was accompanied by a loss of meaning in life. The author rightly points out that this is the foundation on which an antidote to boredom must be built. There are, of course, other bricks that can be laid on this foundation. These include the regaining of a proper use of the Lord’s Day, grasping a true wonder and awe of the majesty of God’s creation, and looking beyond ourselves to serve others in their needs.
Additionally, Winters includes a test so that the reader can examine his or her proneness to boredom.
This book is important reading for Christians. We are to take every thought captive for God. This includes having Biblical directives for those bored in our day. Certain personality traits, such as being an extrovert, make one more open to boredom. These individuals have to be particularly watchful.
Additionally, parents must know how to train their children to avoid boredom. Winters provides good insights that are applicable to adults but can also be creatively used by parents to begin to train their children in a continual sense of wonder of God’s creation.
We are to be good stewards of the days God has given us. Thus we must fight boredom, which, as the author points out, is different from relaxation. We must also fight boredom because this lack of interest is an open door for temptation and sin. Winters spends several pages uncovering some of the “bitter fruits of boredom” (the chapter’s title) such as pornography and undue risk taking.
The volume provides much food for thought and is worthwhile for discussion in groups that desire to deepen their Christian worldview.